I’m always fascinated by design duos in fashion. For such an individual, expressionist craft, you’d think two heads are not better than one. There are, of course, great, albeit limited, collaborations in fashion: Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the Rodarte sisters. But blood, and talent, it seems, are thicker than both. Alia and Jamil Juma, the Canadian brother and sister team behind JUMA, are the arbitrators of cool. With their well-traveled pedigree, superlative prints and fabrics and far-East influences, they never cease to challenge the notion of sibling rivalry. To showcase their latest Fall-Winter offering, JUMA enlisted director Jim Morrison IV to create something rare: A fashion film that’s actually interesting.
Based on their time researching tapestry and wildlife across India, Tibet, Thailand and Shenzhen for fall inspiration, the result is visual foreplay. Set to the arrestingly sexy Twin Shadow’s “When We’re Dancing,” the collection is a kaleidoscopic dream you want to live in: perfect patterns, and dresses and blazers in moody blues and blacks, subtle olives and corals. An opening night hit (see runway gallery below), we caught up with the two design mavericks during Fashion Week to chat past, present and future.
Q &A with Alia and Jamil Juma
FILLER Magazine (FM): What inspired you to come up with the Kaleidoscope theme behind the film?
It was an in-house discussion prior to meeting the [Morrison], and once we met with him it evolved into the film that you see. As we started shooting, we improvised by throwing scarves at the models and had them move around in different positions, and the film came to life that way.
FM: We’re passionate about fashion videos as an art form here at FILLER too, but lately, some films coming out of the industry have been getting a bad rep for being poorly produced, low rent or weak on plot – especially Canadian ones. Why did you opt to go the film route?
We didn’t want to be confined to traditional mediums; we wanted a way to capture the audience in an innovative manner where we could fully present our vision.
FM: Your vision this season seems to have an Eastern influence. Are you paying homage to your heritage or just heavily influenced by your world travels?
We have traveled a lot in our lives, and our collections reflect that. This season the themes were Tibet and Indonesia because we do travel through Asia a lot. We don’t always want to be confined to only having Eastern influences. For example, for example Spring 2011 was inspired by Africa. We want to change it up depending on what we are feeling for the future seasons.
FM: What about Fall?
We decided to make the collection completely unisex.
FM: Where do you want to take the brand in the coming years? Lifestyle items or more accessories (shoes?!) perhaps?
We don’t have a specific end goal in mind. Right now, we’re focusing on women’s, men’s, scarves and bags; that’s what we want to focus on. We would love to add more in the future, but we need to take it step-by-step.
FM: You’re both jetsetters, what happens when you’re stepping it up on different sides of the globe?
We are never not connected; we have the Internet, so we are constantly interacting throughout the creative process. In the beginning, we go off on our own and think about what we want to do for the season, and then we bring our ideas together and fuse them into a collection.
FM: What’s the biggest challenge you face in contemporary fashion as young Canadian designers?
Standing out as a brand from the other designers. We feel that we have achieved that since we offer customized prints and a cohesive unisex collection, and our scarves and bags work well together to create one united collection.
FM: As someone who has been in the business for a while, what do you make of the contemporary fashion scene and is there anything missing from it?
We think that there is a lot of talent out there, and we see a lot of things that we enjoy. A lot of designers are bringing something unique to the contemporary world, and there is nothing “missing,” it’s more about each designer evolving their collection with every season.
FM: While there is nothing missing, if you could add something to the industry by way of a collaboration with anyone , living or dead, on anything fashion-related, what would it be?
It would fun to collaborate with a large sneaker or sportswear brand as a way to bring a piece of the contemporary fashion world to the masses.
FM: What can we expect from Juma in Spring 2012?
We do have a concept in mind for spring, but we don’t want to give anything away at the moment. Stay tuned!
JUMA FW 2011 RUNWAY
Photography by Irina Luca